Opinion by Wallace Wyss
All photos courtesy of Gooding & Company Auctions.
We are still reeling from the prices achieved at Scottsdale auctions. For example, $737,000 for a mere 330GTC is mind-numbing. It is about three times what GTCs usually get at auctions.
Other mind-numbing numbers at the Gooding auction were:
250 California LWB Spider – $8.25M
F50 – $1.450M
246GTS – $506k
250GT Boano low roof $836K
330GT 2+2 $250K
Another surprise was the high bidding on the 246GTS, but does it make sense that a Ferrari without a V-12 that originally sold as a budget Ferrari, is worth more than many V-12 Ferraris?
At the RM auction it was much the same as far as Ferraris:
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta ‘Competizione’ – $8,140,000
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 – $1,842,500
1966 Ferrari 275 GTB – $1,320,000
2003 Ferrari Enzo – $1,320,000
1954 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe – $1,017,500
This observer has a few observations but none of them really explain the phenonema of the high prices at Scottsdale 2013.
1. There are more and more investors coming into the field who know nothing about Ferraris but are told by knowledgeable friends that there is a limited supply of the great ones and want to get in no matter how much the price. The theory is that as ever more people join the crowd, prices will continue to rise.
2. There are a number of toney events such as the Colorado Grand that you can only enter if you have a truly significant car. You can have a brand new Ferrari and maybe not get accepted but if you have a 40-year old one like one of these, you could be accepted and be wining, dining and driving with some very high rollers and business people you would not otherwise meet. Think of the price of the car as buying an membership in the Bel Air Country Club.
3. The Mid-East has awakened to the prestige and marketing possibilities of a concours with one recently held in Dubai, and possibly the UAE. Some oil sheiks make $100 million a week so to buy a few significant cars puts them on talking terms with elite business folk around the world. They can always sell them if they get bored.
4. Art is a bad investment in terms of how easily famous artists are faked. I had lunch with an art dealer who faked Picassos using real blank pieces of paper signed by Picasso. Warhols are faked regularly, and even the Warhol family can’t always identify fakes from the real prints. On the other hand, though it can be and is done, a Ferrari California Spyder is not easy to fake from the ground up.
5. Diamonds are a bad investment. Russia has so many bags of diamonds in storage that, if they released them all at once, you could put them in boxes of breakfast cereal as premiums. Gold is too volatile.
6. High profile celebrities are collecting them. Letterman has at least three Ferraris including a Superamerica. Leno is said to be anti-Ferrari but must have at least one. If he ever goes whole-hog on them, he could spend $10 million on his first shopping trip if he unloads some of his pre-war classics. Ralph Lauren, among celebrities has shown the tasteful way to own Ferraris , using them in promotional ways that respect them as objects d’art (such as displaying his 250LM, GTO and others at the Louvre in Paris).
7. Ferrari is expanding into new markets where there are billionaires who have no background in the marque. Maybe they will buy a brand new one and find out later that the real connoisseurs also have old ones, vintage ones and decide to pick up a couple of those as well. The Concorso d’Kremlin is not far off…
8. Some say this is a “bubble,” like the Tulip bulb thing in Holland. They will go up so high and then collapse. I think not – because you can always grow more tulips – but you can’t go back to 1963 and build more 250GT0s. Then again, the art and car market crash of the 1990s is now apparently long forgotten. This means short memories and youth may contribute to high auction prices.
Of course if there is a major stock market crash, North Korea invades South Korea, Israel launches a missile at Iran, etc. all bets are off. However, I think we are witnessing Ferraris made before 1975 displacing fine art as collectibles. Scottsdale 2013 was a tipping point and the market has changed forever.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is currently beating the bushes for a producer for his Ferrari Hunters mystery novels.